Saturday, 8 April 2017

Spider-Man Snail Catches Prey with Lasso

The shell of Thylacodes squamigerus, a close relative of the newly discovered snail. Image courtesy of Chad King (SIMoN / MBNMS), public domain.

Joel Kontinen

All is not well in Darwinland. Several kinds of animals defy evolutionary expectations:

Marsupials should not look like placental mammals, but some do.

Mammals should not lay eggs, but the platypus and the spiny anteater break this rule.

Fish should not sing, but some do.

Spiders are not expected to fly, but spiderlings (i.e., young spiders) can take to the air and let the wind carry them for hundreds of kilometres.

Then there’s the latest discovery of a tiny worm snail called Thylacodes vandyensis. Found in the Florida Keys, it uses its slime in an exotic way. Live Science explains:

T. vandyensis … casts mucous strands in Spidey-style nets to trap plankton and other organic material. Afterward, it hauls in its prizes, eats the gooey net along with whatever food it was able to catch, and recycles the slime to produce a new snare.”

It seems that the lowly snail invented the lasso – or something very much like it.


Weisberger, Mindy. 2017. Newfound 'Spider-Man'Snail Is an Expert Web Slinger. Live Science (5 April).